Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Four More Years of Big Oil?

With Alaska Governor Sarah Palin added to the Republican ticket one may justifiably assume that there will be more pressure to drill for oil in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) despite the fact that oil companies are already sitting on 68 million acres of leases that they aren’t even drilling. The graphic at the top of the page is based on 2008 data from the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service and Bureau of Land Management records.

Art McEldowney sent me the map with this note:
It is hard for me to understand how the entire U.S. energy future is tied specifically to drilling in ANWR. Does that mean that sufficient amounts of oil do not exist in the areas depicted by the colored portions of the attached maps, including those immediately adjacent to ANWR? Is there a political reason or some other ulterior motive to drill in ANWR?
These are questions that should be addressed to John Drill-here-and-now McCain and Sarah Palin. In her just completed acceptance speech in Minneapolis she
said that Americans need to produce more oil and gas.
And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: we've got lots of both.
I can understand why Palin makes that statement; eighty percent of Alaska’s state government revenues come from just one source, oil. If you are governor of Alaska being pro-oil is a given, and she is. Because she wants nothing to stand in the way of those revenues she has attempted to discredit the science of global warming and the listing of the
polar bear on the endangered species list.

In only a slightly tongue in cheek piece titled, “
Red State,” Leighton Wood captures the oil ethos in which Palin governs:
When pundits refer to Alaska as the 'reddest of red states,' they could as easily be referring to its oligopolistic resource extraction-based economy and its redistributionist state taxation regime as to its electoral tendencies. Eighty percent of Alaska's state government revenues come from just one source, oil. That's just ten percent less than in Saudi Arabia and thirty percent more than in Venezuela. Because of this enormous oil wealth, Alaskans don't pay state-levied income or sales taxes, and have the lowest tax obligations in the country. In fact, Alaska residents are paid out directly from the industry, in the form of annual checks of up to $2,000 from the oil industry-financed "Alaska Permanent Fund."

… it's instructive to bear in mind, as conservative Republicans laud her record as governor, that much of Alaska's social welfare is based on what amounts to a socialist principle of taxing big corporations for their use of publicly owned resources and returning a portion of those profits back to regular working people trying to pay their heating bills. That Palin has been a champion of that principle is a fact that her Weekly Standard cheerleaders might just as soon forget, and that she, no doubt, will also forget as soon as she steps into the White House -- should she ever be so lucky.
A few years ago when I was leaving Alaska, my friends gave me a gift they knew I would appreciate: a
print of a Sandy Jamieson’s painting, which hangs here in my study. Jamieson lives in Ester just outside Fairbanks and understands the economy and culture well.

We’ve had eight years of Big Oil with Bush and Cheney. Can we afford another four of Big Oil with McCain and Palin?

- Milo

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